3 German Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press
Sunday, May 20, 2007; 2:25 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan -- In a rare attack in Afghanistan's relatively calm north, a suicide bomber detonated himself next to German soldiers shopping in a crowded market on Saturday, killing three of them, along with seven Afghan civilians, officials said.

At least six more people were killed on Sunday in a suicide bombing in the eastern part of the country, authorities said.

The Saturday attack in the city of Kunduz came after two German vehicles on a security patrol stopped in the market and soldiers got out on foot to do some shopping, said Kunduz provincial police chief Gen. Ayub Salangi.

In addition to the three German soldiers killed, two were seriously wounded, said German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, who broke short a trip to Denmark to rush back to Berlin. He said the other seven soldiers and one policemen in the group received minor injuries.

Seven Afghan civilians were also killed and 13 wounded, including seven seriously, said Azizullah Safer, the director of the provincial health department.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowded market in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least six people and wounding 40, a police official said.

The attack in city of Gardez destroyed "many" shops, said provincial deputy chief of police Ghulam Dastagir. At least seven of the wounded were in critical condition, he said.

Dastagir said the attack did not appear to target Afghan soldiers, police or international military forces _ unlike most violence in Afghanistan. He said the bomber appeared to be from Pakistan or Chechnya.

On Saturday, a purported Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said a Taliban militant named Mullah Jawad from Baghlan province carried out the attack in northern Afghanistan. The claim could not be independently verified.

Germany has 3,000 troops as part of the NATO force in Afghanistan. Germany's contingent is stationed in the northern part of the country, which sees relatively few attacks and is considered much safer than the south and east, where most of the country's fighting takes place.

It the worst attack against Germans in the country since a car bomb exploded near a bus carrying German peacekeepers in June 2003, killing four soldiers.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attacks "perfidious murders" that fill the country with "disgust and horror."

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